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The National Book Festival on the Smithsonian Mall held in October of 2006, was the largest since its inception with approximately 100,000 people attending. Laura Bush, a former librarian, started this festival six years agoLucia St. Clair Robson (Venezuela 1964–66) was asked by her publicist at Tor/Forge to interview another of their authors, Elmer Kelton at this popular event). Elmer Kelton, according to Lucia, has been called the best Western writer of all time.
Tony D’Souza (Cote D’Ivoire 2000–02, Madagascar 2002–03) author of last year’s fine novel, Whiteman, has had his short story, “The Man Who Married a Tree” selected for the 2007 Best American Fantasy anthology. The story appeared in McSweeney’s. Prime Books will publish the Best American Fantasy anthology.


Susan Rich’s (Niger 1984–86) second book, Cures Include Travel, has been nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. It was number seven on the bestseller list at Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle this fall, and the poem “The Women of Kismayo” from the book was chosen by Poetry Daily. The poems span three continents and focus primarily on Somalia, Bosnia, and South Africa. There are also several pieces contemplating the nature of home and its relation to travel.

Nita Noveno (Cameroon 1988–90), a New York-based writer originally from Alaska, mines her memories for stories about family and identity. In her piece "Mindanao", she weaves together personal and political history.
You can read it at:


Mo Tejani (Thailand 1979–80) — an Indian Shia Muslim by ancestry — was expelled from Idi Amin’s Uganda in 1972. Torn apart from his family and exiled from his continent of birth, Mo has spent three decades on the road, and has just published his globetrotting memoir, a story of his travels through five continents in search of a “home” for himself. He now lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand. His book is entitled A Chameleon’s Tale: True Stories of a Global Refugee.

The December 2006 issue of The Writer’s Chronicle, the magazine of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs carried an exchange of letters between John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962–64) and Sybil Baker regarding her essay in Volume 39, Number 1, of The Writer’s Chronicle, entitled “Lost Generation: The American Expatriate Writer.” Coyne objected to the fact that Ms. Baker did not list any RPCV writers in her long article. Ms. Baker agreed with the editor of that it was an oversight.
Mary-Ann Tirone Smith’s (Cameroon 1963-65) memoir, Girls of Tender Age, was selected by NPR’s “Fresh Air” as the top nonfiction book of 2006. The memoir also made the best books list at The Washington Post Book World. The memoir has been selected by a dozen communities across the country for “One Town, One Read” events. The community read she looks forward to most of all is “One Book, One School” — Hartford Public High School’s students, teachers and parents will be reading and discussing the memoir led by students taking the “Urban Lit” English elective. (Mary-Ann grew up in Hartford).
     The memoir was published in January in the UK and has already received glowing reviews.
     Mary-Ann will hold a master class at Trinity College in March in connection with a three-day event: “Giving Voice: A Symposium on the Art of the Memoir.”
Stephen Handelman (Guatemala 1971–73) a former Time writer and author is now managing editor of a new quarterly magazine put out by the Americas Society in New York, called Americas Quarterly (the premier issue will be out in April 2007). The magazine aims at getting new, provocative ideas and information from around the Americas, stretching from the proverbial Arctic to Tierra del Fuego. Any PCV in the region, or RPCV who has ideas, suggestions, stories — and most significant of all — or who can point to new voices worth spotlighting in the magazine should contact Steve at
Peter Chilson (Niger 1985-87) has won the Katherine Bakeless Nason Fiction Prize, sponsored by Middlebury College and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, for his collection of stories entitled Disturbance-Loving Species: A Novella and Stories. It will be published by Mariner Books (a Houghton Mifflin imprint) in August 2007. The stories are about cultural displacement, specifically Americans in Africa, struggling to cope and survive, and Africans who are living in America and coping with their own problems. Peter writes, “Naturally, some of what I learned through my Peace Corps experiences comes into play in these stories.”
The University of Georgia has announced the three winners of the 2006 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and Anne Panning (Philippines 1988–90) has won one of the prizes for her short story collection Super America. Her book will be published in October 2007 by the University of George Press. Besides publication, the three winners receive $1000 cash awards.
     Anne is an Associate Professor of English at the State University of New York/Brockport and is from Minnesota. Her first short-story collection, The Price of Eggs, was published in 1992. In January, Anne and her husband, Mark, and their two young children (2 and 5 years old) left for Vietnam for six months. Mark received a Fulbright and Anne is on sabbatical and will be working on her next novel, and — as she writes — “chasing after the kids.”
Kris Holloway (Mali 1989–91), author of the recently published Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years With a Midwife in Mali, had a short essay, “Obedience Training,” in the November 5, 2006 issue of the New York Times Magazine. Her story is one that many PCVs experienced when adopting a dog in the developing world and have to leave their pet behind. Kris, however, had a tougher goodbye than most Volunteers.
Kris ran up against a feticheur, the leader of the traditional religious community that scarified animals to bring honor, luck and rain to the village. Kris knew this man ate dogs and her pet was especially valuable because it belonged to an American.
Saying goodbye in Africa meant more to Kris than leaving her village and her host family. And what it meant she detailed in this short touching essay.
Haworth Press has just announced that the entire series of the critically acclaimed Donald Strachey gay mystery novels will be re-released in conjunction with the Here! Television network’s Donald Strachey Mystery productions in which Chad Allen plays private eye Strachey. The first of the TV series, Third Man Out is available on DVD. The next production, from the novel Ice Blues, will air early in 2007. The author of the series is Richard Stevenson, better known as Dick Lipez (Ethiopia 1962–64).
Lipez and his partner, Joe Wheaton, are now traveling, and bogging, from Asia. You can follow their adventures at

The annual fiction issue of The New Yorker that appeared on December 25, 2006 carried a long short story, “Monkey Hill” written by Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963–65) and set in the foothills of the Himalayas.
     In an op-ed piece entitled, “America the Overfull” in The New York Times on Sunday, December 31, 2006, Paul wrote about the fact that the U.S. had reached a population of 300 million, saying, in part:

A longing for a simpler world, for a glimpse of the past, is one of the motives in travel. But the rest of the world has fared no better in terms of population pressure, and in many places it is much worse, even catastrophic. The population of Malawi 40 years ago was small and sustainable. None of us Peace Corps Volunteers there at that time thought in terms of rescuing the country but only of helping to improve it. Now Malawi can’t feed itself; it’s one of the many countries that people wish to flee, renowned for being hopeless, unjustly publicized as the enormous orphanage of desperate tots, needing to be saved, devoid of pride, lost without us (back then it would have been Elvis) would breeze through and scoop up a child in a condescending gesture of rescue was unthinkable then.

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